"Will religious conservatives rally to Romney?" asks RNS' David Gibson, and it's a good question. David canvasses the views of some religious conservative leaders and finds some signs of cuddling up if not rallying. But prior to the November election itself, it's going to take actual survey data to track how the current heir presumptive to the GOP nomination is doing with the rank-and-file base of his party.
To their credit, survey researchers have woken up to the fact that religion--or at least whether or not a voter is an evangelical or not--matters in the Republican primary race. Unfortunately, the head-to-heads between President Obama and his several would-be opponents generally ignore religion, despite the fuss over ministerial and contraception exceptions and the administration's alleged War on Religion.
Take the latest WaPo-ABC poll, please. It focuses sharply on an increasing gender gap--showing women streaming away from Romney and the GOP. But there's nothing on the state of the God Gap--the proclivity of the more religious to go for Republicans--and nothing on preference by religious i.d.
But here and there are straws in the wind, and they are not what you might expect. SurveyUSA's recent California poll shows evangelicals actually preferring Obama over Romney et al. Now these are all evangelicals, not just white ones (i.e. Hispanics too). But still, could it be the case that the Calvary and Vineyard types that populate the West Coast are more friendly to the president than their Baptist co-religionists to the east?
The there's Michigan, where the latest EPIC_MRA poll shows Obama's lead over Romney to have shrunk from eight points in January to four points now. Catholics, who in 2008 supported Obama over McCain 52-46 now support Romney over Obama 50-43--a 13 point swing. Could the bishops' campaign be having an effect?
Here's hoping the other surveyers take note and begin asking religion questions. Otherwise we'll have to wait till November to know whether religious conservatives rallied or not.